Water Online

JUL 2017

Water Innovations gives Water and Wastewater Engineers and end-users a venue to find project solutions and source valuable product information. We aim to educate the engineering and operations community on important issues and trends.

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How do you define smart water? There are a lot of varying definitions out there, but we define smart water as a group of emerging technology solutions that help water managers operate more effectively. These solutions harness state-of-the-art hardware and software to provide increasing levels of system intelligence, visibility, automation and control, and customer service. At Bluefield, we take a holistic approach to consider the entire spectrum of smart water solutions — from hardware (e.g., smart meters) to software solutions (e.g., data platforms). The aim is to improve customer and network management through new technologies, data-driven platforms, and more advanced business models. To give you an idea of scale, Bluefield forecasts the U.S. municipal water sector's spend to surpass $20 billion on software, data, and analytics solutions over the next decade. It's still early, so this could scale quickly. What is the problem that smart water solutions are attempting to solve? Historically, utilities have been hobbled by their inability to generate actionable insights from disparate network and water usage data, but this is changing with more advanced data management and cloud-based solutions. Water utilities have been stereotyped in the past as stodgy and never-changing, but this no longer holds true; smart water is bringing the water industry into the 21st century as companies look to adopt these cutting-edge solutions. By leveraging Big Data, analytics, and the Internet of Things (IoT), key players in the water sector are proactively innovating to help solve issues of water scarcity and address aging water infrastructure. Smart technologies help water utilities be more proactive vs reactive. For example: • Using imaging to inspect corroding pipes, enabling predictive maintenance; • Analyzing data in real time to identify leaks that would otherwise go unnoticed; and • Leveraging software to help utilities and consumers track their home water usage. Why is the industry turning to data and analytics now? There are a number of factors that are leading to somewhat of a perfect storm. First, there is more pressure than ever on utilities to do more with less. Consumers are pushing back on rising water rates and expecting better customer service. Utilities and municipalities find themselves facing mounting financial constraints driven by falling water revenues and pressure to address aging infrastructure. Approximately 50 percent of U.S. infrastructure has been evaluated as poor to beyond planned life, according to latest EPA reports. And companies are looking for new, innovative ways to address issues such as aging pipes and leakage management. This has sparked an uptick in demand for innovative solutions to more cost-effectively manage billing and customer management, leakage rates, and energy consumption. Water loss is a big concern, and states are attempting to increase regulations in this area. Water scarcity events have influenced the development of state-driven regulation targeting water loss. We have seen great advancements in the areas of Big Data and IoT, leading other industries, such as energy, to adopt these technologies. With pressing issues mounting, the water industry is now taking advantage as well. Can smart water technologies make a difference? The short answer is yes. The results have been significant. In some cases, smart water solutions have halved nonrevenue water — leaks and billing errors — and reduced energy consumption from 20 to 40 percent. As much as 30 percent of water utility operating expenditures can be improved almost immediately through more dynamic and real-time system monitoring, according to Bluefield's analysis. What are the fastest-growing segments? Often the first step in U.S. utilities' smart water journey is through smart water meters —automatic meter reading (AMR) or advanced metering infrastructure (AMI). Meters will continue to represent the lion's share of forecasted expenditures at 82 percent from 2017 through 2026. The challenge, however, is that the data collected 16 wateronline.com n Water Innovations SMARTWATER U.S. Smart Water Forecasts

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